Stand-alone I/O boards are disappearing as mezzanine I/O cards take control of data-acquisition applications

By John Keller

Product Intelligence -- The era of the widespread stand-alone input/output (I/O) board apparently is coming to an end, embedded computing industry experts say, as systems designers increasingly rely on mezzanine I/O cards for the vast majority of their applications.


At the same time, however, stand-alone I/O boards still have utility for specialized applications, such as placing many different I/O schemes on a single board, or for handling blazingly fast, specialized I/O for the most demanding applications, such as radar processing, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence, experts say.

On the horizon for I/O lies the world of optical computing, which today designers implement primarily through the front panel of the embedded computing chassis, yet in the not-too-distant future systems designers are likely to increase their use of fiber-optic I/O through the backplane with help from emerging standards like VITA-66.

"We see a lot more I/O these days going directly on the processing modules themselves, or implemented as mezzanine cards," says Anne Mascarin, solution marketing manager at Mercury Computer Systems in Chelmsford, Mass. "There is a lot of flexibility in I/O and where it resides. It really depends on the application."

I/O functionality that resides directly on single-board computers or as mezzanine cards plugged into these single-board computers can be implemented as specialized I/O matched to the application, or can be industry-standard I/O. "Most of our processing boards come with standard interfaces," Mascarin explains. "We are adding our GPIO line, which stands for General-Purpose I/O, which are discrete input/output lines but without a specific protocol. It is I/O wires and pins that the customer can define the protocol they want to run over it."

Although demand for standard I/O implemented on stand-alone boards appears to be winding down, I/O suppliers do field requests from systems integrators involved in upgrades and technology insertion who want to retain I/O on separate boards. "In some of the systems we have announced, our customers are still making 6U and 3U I/O boards, and we will include that in the system," Mascarin says.

"Our customers, and COTS companies like ourselves, are very much going away from I/O-based cards," says Steven Edwards, chief technology officer at Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedding Computing in Ashburn, Va. "The days of the 6U and the 3U data-acquisition card have gone by the wayside, and either the I/O is incorporated onto base cards that serve another function like a single-board computer, or primarily it is incorporated on mezzanine cards."

Ever-increasing bandwidth of I/O in high-performance embedded computing can make implementing I/O on mezzanine cards a challenge, but new standards are meeting many new demands. The FMC card, which stands for FPGA mezzanine card, is designed specifically for field-programmable gate array architectures.

Still, some applications that call for the quickest possible I/O still call for specialized stand-alone boards. "You closely couple I/O to high-bandwidth processing to match requirements, but sometimes you step past what is possible with a mezzanine," explains Jeremy Banks, product marketing manager for sensors and I/O processing at the Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing office in High Wycombe, England.

"The very high ends of bandwidth, like 1 gigabyte per second, you do hit a boundary where some I/O mezzanines can't cope with that and it calls for a stand-alone board," Banks says. "The key thing is to choose the right mezzanine for the given bandwidth."

Not all I/O mezzanines can meet all system requirements. North Atlantic Industries Inc. in Bohemia, N.Y., specializes in I/O boards that can handle many different I/O schemes on one stand-alone board -- most often either 6U or 3U VME or Compact PCI.

"Our philosophy has been multifunction I/O on boards, on which you can put as many as six different I/O functions on a single 6U VME board," explains Lino Massafra, vice president of sales and marketing at North Atlantic Industries.

Shipboard missile launchers are one example of multiple I/O on a board, Massafra explains. "Where you are monitoring a launcher, we monitor all kinds of A/D [analog-to-digital conversion] and discrete. We can monitor on a single board as many as 60 A/D channels or as many as 60 D/A channels.

Among North Atlantic's major talents is synchro resolver measurement, which keeps precise track of system movements, such as missile launchers or deck guns. "On a ship, we need to manage the position of a gun," Massafra explains. "The gun has left-and-right, and up-and-down movement. We can measure the position of that gun, and combine with a synchro that measures the movement of the ship, so the gun is always pointing in the right direction."

Looking to the future of I/O, optical computing and fiber optics technology expected to play an important role. "Certainly today optical I/O is all front-panel based, and that can be a challenge for things that are conduction-cooled, or that need two-level maintenance," says Curtiss-Wright's Edwards.

VITA, the open-standards, open-markets trade organization in Fountain Hills, Ariz., is formulating the VITA-66 standard for fiber-optic I/O out the backplane. "In the future we'll see optical I/O on the base card directly," Edwards says. "The advantage of optical I/O is noise immunity. A sensor located a long distance from the processor can have an enhanced signal at the receiving end."

VITA-66 should be ratified sometime this year, Edwards says, and by the end of 2011 the market most likely will see some VITA-66 cards and backplanes.

 

I/O board company list

ACCES I/O Products Inc.
San Diego
http://accesio.com

Acqutek Corp.
Fullerton, Calif.
www.acqu.com

Acromag Inc.
Wixom, Mich.
www.acromag.com

ACT/Technico
Warminster, Pa.
www.acttechnico.com

ACTIS Computer Inc.
Tempe, Ariz.
www.actis-computer.com

ADLINK Technology Inc.
Irvine, Calif.
www.adlinktech.com

Advanced Digital Logic Inc.
San Diego
www.adl-usa.com

Advanced Microcomputer Systems Inc.
Pompano Beach, Fla.
www.advancedmsinc.com

Advantech Corp., Industrial Automation Group
Cincinnati, Ohio
www.advantech.com

ALPHI Technology Corp.
Tempe, Ariz.
www.alphitech.com

Annapolis Micro Systems Inc.
Annapolis, Md.
www.annapmicro.com

API Alliance Inc.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
www.apiallianceinc.com

Axiomatic Technologies Corp.
Mississauga, Ontario
www.axiomatic.com

Bustec Production Ltd.
North Ridgeville, Ohio
www.bustec.com

Curtiss-Wright Controls Electronic Systems
Dayton, Ohio
www.cwcelectronicsystems.com

Custom Control Systems Inc.
New Hartford, N.Y.
www.customcontrolsystems.com

Dataforth Corp.
Tucson, Ariz.
www.dataforth.com

Diamond Systems Corp.
Mountain View, Calif.
www.diamondsystems.com

DSP Control Group Inc.
Minneapolis, Minn.
www.dspcg.com

dSPACE Inc.
Wixom, Mich.
www.dspaceinc.com

Dynatem Inc.
Mission Viejo, Calif.
www.dynatem.com

Emerson Network Power Embedded Computing
Tempe, Ariz.
www.emersonnetworkpower.com

ESD Electronics Inc.
Greenfield, Mass.
www.esd-electronics-usa.com

GE Intelligent Platforms
Charlottesville, Va.
www.ge-ip.com

Grayhill Inc.
La Grange, Ill.
http://grayhill.com

Kontron USA
Poway, Calif.
www.kontron.com

Measurement Computing
Norton, Mass.
www.mccdaq.com

MEN Micro Inc.
Ambler, Pa.
www.menmicro.com

Mercury Computer Systems Inc.
Chelmsford, Mass.
www.mc.com

Mosaic Industries Inc.
Newark, Calif.
www.mosaic-industries.com

North Atlantic Industries Inc. (NAI)
Bohemia, N.Y.
www.naii.com

Octagon Systems Corp.
Westminster, Colo.
www.octagonsystems.com

OMEGA Engineering Inc.
Stamford, Conn.
www.omega.com

Opto 22
Temecula, Calif.
www.opto22.com

Parvus Corp.
Salt Lake City, Utah
www.parvus.com

Pentek Inc.
Upper Saddle River, N.J.
www.pentek.com

RTD Embedded Technologies Inc.
State College, Pa.
www.rtd.com

Sealevel Systems Inc.
Liberty, S.C.
www.sealevel.com

Sensoray Company Inc.
Tigard, Ore.
www.sensoray.com

Spectrum Controls Inc.
Bellevue, Wash.
www.spectrumcontrols.com

Spectrum Signal Processing
Burnaby, British Columbia
www.spectrumsignal.com

Technobox Inc.
Lumberton, N.J.
www.technobox.com

TEK Microsystems Inc.
Chelmsford, Mass.
www.tekmicro.com

place link phrase hereTri-M Systems and Engineering Inc.
Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
www.tri-m.com

VersaLogic Corp.
Eugene, Ore.
http://versalogic.com/

WinSystems Inc.
Arlington, Texas
www.winsystems.com

WAGO Corp.
Germantown, Wis.
www.wago.com




Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

VPX3-453 3U VPX Virtex-6/8640D Digital Signal Processor

The Curtiss-Wright VPX3-453 is a high performance 3U VPX DSP and FPGA processor card that combine...

CHAMP-FX4 6U OpenVPX Virtex-7 FPGA Processor Card

The CHAMP-FX4 is the flagship 6U product in Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions’ family of user-prog...

PMC-E2001 Audio/Acoustic Waveform Generating PMC Card

PMC-E2001 Delta-sigma PMC features 16-bit resolution with 8 Analog Outputs and 4 Analog Inputs wi...

General Micro "Horizon" C299

The C299 Horizon is a third generation, 6U cPCI SBC module based on GMS’ upgradable CPU technolog...

RR2P Removable Canister RAID System

Transportable data storage for mobile field use aboard planes, ships and ground transport. 2U, du...

General Micro "Atom" XPC40X Rugged, Ultra-Small, Ultra-Low-Power Intel Atom™ CPU SBC

The XPC40X Atom is a rugged, low cost, ultra-low power, lightweight, Atom™ based computer system....

General Micro's VS295 Eclipse

The VS295 Eclipse is fifth generation, VME SBC module based on GMS, upgradable CPU technology. It...

6U OpenVPX HPEC Starter System

GE Intellligent Platforms new HPEC Application Ready Platforms (HARP) products respond to governm...

DSP280 - Rugged Dual Socket 2nd Gen Intel Quad Core i7 Multiprocessor

The DSP280 is a rugged, 6U OpenVPX dual socket Intel 2nd generation Quad Core i7 multiprocessor d...

ADEPT3000 Automatic Video Tracker

GE Intelligent Platforms ADEPT3000 is a cost-effective SWaP optimized automatic video tracking so...

Related Companies

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions (CWDS) is a long established techno...

Innovative Integration

  Since 1988, Innovative Integration has grown to become one of the world's leading suppliers of DSP and data ac...

General Micro Systems Inc

Since 1979, General Micro Systems has been providing the most diverse line of single-board computers in the industry....

Winchester Systems Inc

At its founding in 1981, Winchester Systems introduced its first 5 MB disk system for Intel development system users....

Extreme Engineering Solutions Inc (X-ES)

 Extreme Engineering Solutions, Inc. (X-ES) is a leader in the design, manufacture, and support of standard and ...

LEMO USA Inc

Provides a lightweight, compact aluminum connector. M-series connector is focused on the design that requires a MIL-3...

GE Intelligent Platforms

Provides embedded computing solutions. Products include single-board computers, networking products, avionics interfa...

Omnetics Connector Corp

Omnetics Connector Company is a privately held, world class connector design and manufacturing company with over 25 ...

Dawn VME Products

Dawn provides customers an in-depth and broad range of system and product knowledge and expertise coupled with the la...
Wire News provided by   

Press Releases

Low Viscosity, One Part Cyanoacrylate Is Non-Toxic and Meets ISO 10993-5 Specifications

Master Bond MB250NT is widely used for a variety of applications ranging from repair to high speed producti...

Thermally Conductive, Two Component Epoxy Passes USP Class VI Tests and ISO 10993-5 Specifications

With biocompatibility and cytotoxicity certifications, Master Bond EP21AOLV-2Med is often selected for bond...

One Component, Snap Cure Epoxy Features High Strength Properties

Suitable for a variety of applications in the electronic, aerospace and OEM industries, Master Bond EP3SP5F...

One Part Epoxy Resists up to 500°F and Meets NASA Low Outgassing Specifications

Master Bond Supreme 12AOHT-LO is a one component epoxy for a variety of bonding and sealing applications in...

VICTORY Shared Processing, Fire Control Computer, and Switch for Ground Vehicles Introduced by Curtiss-Wright

Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has introduced a new fully i...

CURTISS-WRIGHT CONGRATULATES NORTHROP GRUMMAN ON SUCCESSFUL FIRST FLIGHT OF SECOND MQ-4C TRITON UAS

Curtiss-Wright Corporation’s Defense Solutions division applauds Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) o...

Curtiss-Wright’s New Rugged Mobile IP Router Subsystem Features an Integrated Cisco® 5915 ESR Router

Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division, a Cisco® Systems Solution T...

GE Announces First Sub-Credit Card-Sized Multi-Function High Definition (HD) Video Tracker

HUNTSVILLE, AL.— OCTOBER 13, 2014—GE’s Intelligent Platforms business today announced at AUSA (October 13-...

Webcasts

Meeting the Gen3 backplane challenge with OpenVPX and COTS

Tight Pentagon budgets mean military systems must stay in the field for longer than ever before. This doesn't mean obsolete technology, however. Today's military electronics are being upgraded constantly, an...
Sponsored by:

Design Strategy Considerations for DO-178C Certified Multi-core Systems

Join Wind River to learn how system architecture and design choices can minimize your DO-178C certification challenges.

Sponsored by:

Flying, Sailing or Driving - The Rugged, Embedded Intel-based Server that goes where you need it!Flying Sailing or Driving

Leveraging the power of server-class processors is no longer relegated to the confines of data centers. Through several innovations, Mercury Systems has ruggedized Intel’s server-class chips for deployment. ...
Sponsored by:

All Access Sponsors


Mil & Aero Magazine

April 2015
Volume 26, Issue 4
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE